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SAS Named Best Company To Work For In 2010 183

theodp writes "If you're in the market for a new job, Fortune has just published its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2010. Topping the list this year is SAS (SAS jobs), the largest privately held software company, which Fortune notes is populated with more statisticians than engineers or MBAs, and led by a Ph.D. founder whose first love is programming. Google (jobs), which once viewed SAS as model for employee perks, took the #4 spot, and Microsoft (jobs) checked in at #51."
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SAS Named Best Company To Work For In 2010

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  • Re:What a joke... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:13AM (#30885864)

    According to this review []:

    Pager duty is a major pain. Smaller teams can expect to be on-call at least one week per month, while larger teams spread out the pain longer. Getting paged in the middle of the night for a high-severity problem that take eight hours of investigation to fix is enough to drive many to quit.

    Sounds like they're trying to make routine (as opposed to rare, emergency) use of on-call engineers as a way of maintaining 24/7 staffing without actually paying for 24/7 staffing.

  • bogus methodology (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:44AM (#30886030)
    Fortune's methodology is completely bogus because it doesn't interview former employees. I used to work for #2 but quit when I learned that I would get paid 1/2 as much for selling stocks and mutual funds that were not recommended by the company.
  • Re:What a joke... (Score:1, Informative)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE ( 697061 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <etreufamla>> on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:54AM (#30886114)

    >>If SAS had been the only language you programmed in, it would probably make a lot more sense.

    That means that language is BROKEN.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:05AM (#30886180)

    The company policy is that the best way to make sure that devs pay attention to defects is to make them the recipient of all the pain they cause. So the devs are in charge not only of writing the code, but also in charge of the service running in production (and on the test network, but that isn't the point here). So if a server goes down- devs take care of it. If a server breaks, devs have to requisition a new one (although a separate team does hardware checking and actually orders it from the supplier, and will also investigate hardware issues upon request). If anything goes wrong with the service itself (due to bugs, bad inputs, etc), the devs take care of it. So the devs share a pager around the team. Exactly how the pager is rotated is decided by the team, but generally its 1 week at a time, round robin. So on an N person team, expect to be on call 1 week in N. When you're on call you're expected to be within 15 minutes of an internet connection and a computer capable of VPNing into the corporate network at all times, and to respond to the page within those 15 minutes (otherwise it pages your boss after 30, then his boss, and on up the line). So basically devs are the 24 hr support crew as well as the developers. Needless to say, most devs don't want to be support, so leave the company very quickly.

  • I think if SAS dies, it's more likely to be a long, leisurely death. Their lock-in for business software is quite high--- it's a huge pain in the ass to completely transition a large company from SAS to anything else. Even if they stopped getting new customers altogether, I think their market share would decline only slowly.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:19AM (#30886294)

    No, R is a great example of a functional programming language, primarily concerned with statistical problems, that would make sense to anyone who has programmed before (but might be difficult for someone who has programmed less within the functional realm)... hey, and it is open source!!!

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bangzilla ( 534214 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:20AM (#30886304) Journal
    To be on the list companies must submit their name for consideration. Amazon didn't, hence it's not on the list. Better things to do than self promotion I suspect ;-)
  • Re:What a joke... (Score:3, Informative)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:15AM (#30886610)

    It really depends on your personality. Some people don't mind it too much. Others can't stand it. Myself, I didn't mind it when I was at work, I'm there I may as well work on that as anything else. And I had no problem volunteering to cover for someone who needed an evening off for family reasons or the like. But that type of crimp on my social life and the necessity of possibly needing to work at any time was a killer for me- I was miserable the entire week, the weekend before (because I was dreading it) and most of the week after (as I decompressed off it). And mind you we did this for no extra pay- it wasn't like I was hourly where being paged in raised my salary or being on call gave me a differential. The most I ever got was a day off if I was up all night. They'd need to pay me at least double to ever put up with that again.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:5, Informative)

    by kd6ttl ( 1016559 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:25AM (#30886656)
    The SAS data step language was originally modeled after PL/I. Some recent additions (for example, the "object-oriented" interface) appear to have been modeled after C or other more recently fashionable languages.

    If you are speaking of the data step language, it's not correct to say that "[m]ost of the functions automatically apply to a whole recordset at once"; that's a misunderstanding of the default data step iteration over records. Statements in the data step apply to one record at a time, going sequentially or in index order through the input - unless you've done something to make that not happen (which you can do - SAS is very flexible).

    In many ways, SAS follows the same principle of least surprise as Perl and some other languages.
  • by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:55AM (#30886822)

    Yes.. very odd, non-conventional programming paradigms. The core of the systems seems to have been invented at the time when modern computers didn't exist.

    The good thing about SAS is that it implements tons of statistics procedures (a lot more than say MATLAB) which are relatively easier to access than the same functions in GNU R. Doing any kind of standard (e.g. any Masters-level) statistics or econometrics in it is a breeze and this is why so many businesses are standardized on SAS. Academic statisticians and economists tend to like SAS too for things that are already implemented in it. But programming your own custom procedures in SAS is a pain in a butt..

    SAS also beats other software in management of large data sets. The DATA step is odd, but it works where R or MATLAB would not work.

  • Wow!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Vr6dub ( 813447 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:14PM (#30892450)

    How does it feel to be a slave to your corporate masters?

Air is water with holes in it.